Our bodies are constantly changing. We aren't made up of the same molecule or have the same neural connections we did when we were five, so why do we still feel like the same person? Maybe it's because we can constantly update ourselves with our progress through life with our memories; creating a consistent narrative that helps us define ourselves.
Unfortunately, Leonard can't do this. His identity is frozen in time and, even worse, has been consumed by the potentially false memories he accrues throughout Memento. Plus, it must be incredibly awkward to wake up and realize you're suddenly covered in tattoos.
Questions About Identity
- What are some ways that Leonard tries to define himself in lieu of having real memories? Do these ways work? Are they healthy?
- Leonard isn't the only one with a nebulous identity. What do you make of Teddy? Is he really an undercover cop gone rogue? Why does he come up with the tale about being a snitch? And why does he create himself as an antagonist in his snitch story?
- Leonard says we all need mirrors to remind ourselves who we are. What are some of these mirrors that Leonard uses? What about other characters? What about you?
Chew on This
Leonard is called "memory man" because that's exactly what he's been reduced to. He's allowed his condition to consume his identity by focusing on his attacker (the source of his condition).
Leonard is much more than just a "memory man." His condition blinds viewers and the characters surrounding him of his personality. This isn't a movie about anterograde amnesia; this is a movie about the struggle and growth of a man.